Friday, November 19, 2010

Chocolate Pound Cake

When I was younger and would visit my relatives in Virginia, my brother and I would almost always be greeted with two things: scratch off lottery tickets and chocolate pound cake. Inevitably, my brother always got the winning ticket, he was just lucky like that. But I didn’t mind, because I knew that the pound cake was guaranteed to be on my dessert plate, and that was enough for me. The cake itself was soft, with a dense, silky crumb, and sturdy. It is also not nearly as sweet as some of the other chocolate cakes I have had in the past, probably due to the fact that pound cake typically uses unsweetened cocoa instead of melted chocolate. It was always baked in a tube pan, and perfectly iced in chocolate frosting. I was so methodical when I at my slice. I would start from the unfrosted bottom, which had been compressed simply from the weight of the cake, and then eat my way through the inner portion of the cake, and leaving nothing but the edge my slice that had an equal frosting-to-cake ratio. I’d eat this part last. The cake alone was heavenly; those last few bites with the frosting were bliss. I loved how the top of the frosting would get just the slightest crust on it after sitting out for a day, and hiding just underneath was a velvety smooth layer sitting atop the cake.
There was only one thing you could do to ruin the cake. You could forget to use a serrated knife to cut it. That was a close to a mortal sin as you could get, and believe me, if you ever forgot to cut it with a serrated knife and were caught, you would never forget again!

It wasn’t until years later when I was talking with my mom about this recipe, and wondering if she had the amazing chocolate frosting recipe that accompanied the cake that I found out the frosting I loved so much was out of a can from the grocery store. I normally don’t care for grocery store icings, because they are they are incredibly sweet and then typically paired with boxed cake mixes, which tend to be on the sweeter side of the spectrum as well. But with this cake, it just works. The super-sweet icing balances the ever-so-slight bitterness from the unsweetened cocoa.

My mother-in-law’s birthday was recently, and I wanted to make a cake that I was sure would be a winner. As much as I love experimenting with new recipes, birthdays are not the time to do it – I want something reliable. Where better to turn than a tried-and-true family recipe? This recipe calls for three sticks of margarine, so I bought a box of four. Good thing I did, because as soon as I opened the box, one of the margarine sticks fell end-first onto the floor. At least I don’t have to figure out what I’m going to do with a fourth stick of margarine. The cake did scare me for a little bit in the oven, because it looked as though it was melting before it would have a chance to set, but I was worrying for nothing. The cake baked up perfectly, and looks and tastes just like I remember it.
This cake would be delicious sans frosting and I’m sure you could easily use a sour cream chocolate buttercream, or basic chocolate buttercream with this cake, but in keeping true to the spirit of my family’s cake, I’m using the good old canned stuff with pride.

Chocolate Pound Cake
Family Recipe

1 ½ c margarine
3 c flour
3 c sugar
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
5 eggs
4 Tbsp cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Sift together dry ingredients. In a separate container, combine the milk and vanilla.
Cream butter and sugar (after my sugar was incorporated into my margarine, I let it go for 4 minutes, until it got light, fluffy, and almost white in color). Add in eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients, alternating with the milk/vanilla mixture. Spoon into a greased and floured* bundt pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minute to 1 hour 30 minutes.
Let the cake cool for 20 minutes before unmolding onto a rack to cool completely. It should turn out with ease.
Once cool, frost and decorate as desired.

*I can’t stress this enough. Nothing is more depressing than turning your pan over, lifting it up, and not seeing cake on your rack because it’s still in the pan. I have to pry more than my share of cakes out with a knife because I get so focused on the recipe that I forget basic things like greasing your pan.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I love chocolate cake. This one looks really fabulous!

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